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Pegasus spyware inquiry – S&Ds call for strong EU regulation to prevent abuse by member states

Date

14 Jun 2023

Sections

InfoSociety
Following a year-long inquiry by the special committee focused on the abuse of spyware like Pegasus or Predator in the EU (PEGA), the European Parliament is now set to endorse tomorrow its recommendations for the necessary reforms.
 
For the Socialists and Democrats it is clear that the spying on and intimidation of politicians, journalists, lawyers, and civil society is unacceptable. That is why the S&Ds call for strong EU rules to regulate the use of spyware technologies to avoid innocent citizens becoming victims of intrusive and illegal surveillance, as we have seen in Poland, Hungary, and Greece.
 
To protect European citizens and stop illegal spyware practices immediately, the S&Ds will also vote in favour of de facto moratorium on the use of such spyware in these EU countries that do not respect certain conditions by the end of the year. Above all, spyware should only be allowed to be used in these member states where allegations of spyware abuse have been thoroughly investigated and resolved, and where the national legislation on the use of spyware is in line with the standards established by the Venice Commission, Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
 
Finally, the S&Ds also call for a clear common definition of ‘national security’ as grounds for surveillance, in order to prevent attempts to justify manifest abuses.
 
Hannes Heide, S&D negotiator and spokesperson in the PEGA committee said ahead of the vote:
 
“When our PEGA investigative committee began its work 14 months ago, we could not imagine the extent to which politicians, journalists, lawyers, and activists were spied on and surveyed in EU member states without any legal basis! The cases of Hungary and Poland are particularly shocking, as their governments spying on critical voices is an element of the broader demolition of the rule of law. In Greece, as our committee concluded, spyware was also used as a tool for political and financial gains, eroding democracy and giving ample room for corruption.
 
“With our recommendations, we urge the Commission and the member states to create the basis for ending and preventing the illegal use of spy software in Europe. Such technologies may only be used as a last resort in the most serious crimes, with very strict safeguards and only by order of a judge. The Commission must present a legislative proposal for the legal use, sale, and purchase of spyware.
 
“Our former colleague, Nikos Androulakis, was spied on by the Greek government under the guise of national security. This case clearly demonstrates that in Europe we need a common definition of ‘national security’ to rule out any arbitrary interpretation.
 
“The new Greek government that will be created after the June 26 elections must duly investigate, and clear up the Predatorgate scandal and the misuse of the Greek National Intelligences Service (EYP). We call on the EPP to stop covering for Mitsotakis, who is following the dangerous autocratic path of Poland and Hungary by attacking independent authorities and critical press.”

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